They are not dragons…
and they are not flies!
You see them in your yard, around your pool, in the woods, near streams and in fields. They come in a variety of beautiful colors. But what do you really know much about the dragonflies that share our world? The word Dragonfly has its source in the myth that Dragonflies were once Dragons. The Dragonfly is a member of the Odonata family, an order of insects that includes the damselflies. The Odonata family inlcudes some of the most ancient and beautiful insects that ever roamed Earth. The family includes over 5,000 species! Odonata comes from the Greek word for tooth as Odonates were believed to have teeth. which the many myth. Scientisits have proven that dragonflies don’t have “teeth,” but they do have strong mandibles, or jaws, that they use to crush their prey. Dragonflies have tiny antennae, extremely large eyes that cover most of the head), two pairs of transparen wings with many small veins, and a long slender abdomen. Why are dragonflies “Good Guys” ? Because dragonflies eat other creatures throughout their entire life cycle. As larva, they live in bodies of water andthey prey on other small creatures – including mosquito larvae. One of the benefits of having dragonflies live nearby is that they eat many times their weight in mosquitoes every day. As adults, they eat other flying insects.
More interesting things about dragonflies…
- Dragonflies are usually found around lakes, ponds, streams and wetlands because their larvae, known as “nymphs”, live in water.
- Most dragonflies spend most of their life in the larval stage (2-6 years depending opn the species) where they molt from six to fifteen times.
- Dragonflies do not have a complete metamorphosis. like butterflies and ladybugs because they do not have a pupal stage.
- Dragonflies are among the fastest insects in the world.. Some of the faster species can fly faster than 30 miles per hour.
- Dragonflies do not hurt people. They are often curious about humans and will fly around you snooping about, but they do not sting or bite.
- Dragonflies are ancient insects. They have been around for more than 300 million years! Today, they look very much like they did in “dinosaur days,” although they have gradually gotten smaller since then.
- The largest dragonfly fossil ever found has a wingspan of nearly three feet. That makes it the largest flying insect in known history. There are dragonflies in Costa Rica that measure 7 ½ inches across the wings.
- A bee flaps its wings about 300 times per second, but a dragonfly flaps its wings at only about 30 beats per second. Dragonflies have two sets of wings so they don’t have to beat them as much to fly.
- The big eyes of a dragonfly have about 30,000 lenses. They can see all the way around their heads but they don’t see details very well.